Hello? Are You There? A Conversation With A Federal Court Judge and the L.A. City Council

The following is an imagined conversation between the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins, and the  City Council. gavel-city-hall

CBBB:  Judge Collins, you ruled last summer that the city’s ban on off-site advertising signs was unconstitutional as applied to supergraphic signs put up by a company called World Wide Rush.  Why did you do that?

Judge Collins:  The city was telling this company that their signs were illegal, but it was permitting other companies to put up the same kind of signs pursuant to supplemental use districts, specific plans, and approved development agreements.  That kind of discrimination violates the first amendment.

CBBB:  Since that ruling, two more sign companies, SkyTag and Liberty Media, have come to your court with the same claim, and you’ve issued injunctions against the city prohibiting it from enforcing the off-site ban against supergraphic signs at a number of locations.  We were wondering if you knew that in spite of this, a city council committee just approved a new supplemental use district called the Olympic-Figueora sign district, and that supergraphic signs will be allowed there.

Judge Collins:  You’re kidding me!  Haven’t they seen my ruling?

CBBB:  Hey there, City Council….Excuse me…

City Council:  Sorry, we were discussing a fee waiver for the 2nd Annual West Valley Chariot and Bagpipe Festival.

CBBB:  Pardon the interruption, but we were wondering why you would consider approving a new supplemental use district that allows supergraphic signs when Judge Collins has been issuing injunctions stopping the city from citing companies that seem to want to plaster these same signs on every building in the city.

City Council:  Is that Judge Judy Collins?

CBBB:  Audrey.   Have you gotten advice from the City Attorney about this?  They’ve appealed her ruling, but a decision isn’t expected for at least a year.  In the meantime, these sign companies….

City Council:  Sorry, the Harbor Gateway Precision Majorette Troupe is coming now, and we’re going to have our picture taken with them.

CBBB:  Okay, we’ll wait.

City Council:  Afterwards it’s public comment period, and we’ll all be making cell phone calls. Then it’ll be time for LWL.   That’s “Lunch with a Lobbyist.”

CBBB:  Really?

City Council:  Ha, ha.  That’s a joke.  You didn’t take us seriously, did you?

CBBB:  Could we talk about this some time?    Judge Collins and her ruling and how the city may be shooting itself in the foot by approving more exceptions to the off-site sign ban?

City Council:  Absolutely, absolutely.  We’re committed to giving the people of Los Angeles the government they deserve.   But hey, here’s the Majorette Troupe!   Yea!  Let’s all get in the picture, now.

Dennis Hathaway

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